6 minute read

In July I caught covid again, possibly for the third time. I’m not a fan of this illness! But it did mean I suddenly had a lot of time on my hands to consume media, so this edition is extra long.


  • The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Vol. 1: Squirrel Power by Ryan North & Erica Henderson- Fun, whimsical comic with a stack of jokes on every page. I’ve long been a fan of Ryan North’s Dinosaur Comics, and this brings the same level of jokes and smart thinking to the Marvel universe. It’s a palette cleanser of a book.

  • Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler- Let’s read some science fiction to escape the world! Only this story is set in 2026 where climate change has ravaged the Americas. Oh. Powerful and hugely impactful, this is a violent, disturbing book. It’s like J G Ballard but with much more empathy. What’s interesting is how the main character views the situation she finds herself in as a slide back, drawing parallels to horrific aspects of history like slavery and war. Recommended, but not an easy read.

  • Mort by Terry Pratchett- Continuing my reread of the Discworld books, this is the first classic in the series. Telling the story of death’s apprentice, this is hilarious but also tender, examining human foibles through the lens of Death, one of the greatest characters on the Disc. I thought I knew this particularly well, as I even was part of a stage adaptation in school, but the book surprised and delighted me in the re-read, being much more profound and concerned with mortality than I remembered.

  • Atomic Habits by James Clear- I appreciated some of the central findings of this book, lile how to implemeny better habits, but its not much spread thin over the pages. Something about the hussle bro tone of the book really rubs me up the wrong way as well. I wish I’d just read a summary instead.

  • Eve by Una-Another book dealing with climate change which I really did not need on the hottest day on record. This is a society in decline, drawing on both the rise of facism and the rise of the oceans to tell a nightmarish future version of the UK. The setting however, is much more interesting than the telling. The story fizzles out a little and the art seems half drawn at times. Interesting but not necessarily one to recommend.

  • Violent Cases by Neil Gaiman & Dave McKean- Similar to Eve, this has a lot of interesting ideas threaded out but is let down by the execution. It’s Neil Gaiman’s first graphic novel and it shows. Concerned with memory and threats you learn as a child but only understand as an adult, the art by Dave McKean is fantastic and unique. However, the story meanders somewhat and feels slight.

  • Earthworks by Stewart Carswell- Poetry rooted in the land and history of England. This is a fascinating collection, delving into history and myth while resisting nationalism. Stewart’s poetry is also lyrical and beautiful, dealing with deep time and the present with a deft touch. Recommended.

  • The Sandman #4: Season of Mists by Neil Gaiman, Matt Wagner, George Pratt, Dick Giordano, Kelley Jones, P. Craig Russell, Mike Dringenber & Malcolm Jones III- Re-reading Sandman before the television series. This is spectacular and so much fun. Every time I go back to The Sandman series I find something new. This time its the delight in all the deities gathered to seize control of hell and the subtle backgrounding of the issues with the endless. Mostly though what is a delight is the confidence in which the story is told. We know where the story is going, but twists like the non confrontation with Lucifer show a new side to the story. Such a good series.

  • Paper Girls (volumes 1 - 6) by Brian K. Vaughan, Cliff Chiang, Matt Wilson & Jared K. Fletcher - This was also a re-read before watching the television series on Amazon. I had read volumes 1 -4 before, but this time I read the whole series in just a few days. Reading it together shows what a coherent and well done story it is. Telling the story of four paper girls from 1988 travelling in time, it is outlandish and over the top. The series uses full page panels to great effect, often lingering on strange and unusual images. But what is so brilliant about this series is not all the time travel and dinosaurs, but the focus on the characters and their struggles to grow up in a world that doesn’t understand them and continually undermines them. It reminds me of the tv show Dark in the best way, a complex story that fits together like a puzzle but ultimately is about the characters.


  • Sound of Metal- Riz Ahmed plays a drummer in a metal band who suffers sudden hearing loss and ends up in a community for deaf adults. Its an incredible character portrait that is immensely sympathetic to everyone in the story. Its also a slow unfolding tragedy. Beautiful.

  • 20 feet from stardom -Really interesting documentary about backing singers in famous bands and how they are constatly overlooked. The film mostly lets the singers speak for themselves, but resists any definitive conclusions. Even so, the music industry does not come accross well.

  • Thor: Love and Thunder- I really enjoyed Thor: Ragnarok, but this is disappointing. The story feels empty, theres a constant joking tone that is ad odds with the serious subject matter but not in a good way. It feels lazy and by the numbers, especially compared to something so full of life like Ms Marvel. A rare miss from Taika Waititi.

Tv series

  • Ms Marvel: Season 1- A shot of fresh air into the MCU. Ms Marvel feels much more grounded in day to day life and family history, as well as having the parition of india and Pakistan as a key story beat. It is funny and charming throughout. As always with Marvel, the villians are a bit weak, but overall this is the best MCU thing since Wandavision.

  • Stranger Things: Season 4- I really enjoyed the darker, horror inflicted tone to this series. It was much less focused on action and more on the characters. The ending was also a gut punch. The series really benefited from a worthwhile villain who impacted the story in a meaningful way. However, I still think many of the episodes were far too long. Like The Marvelous Mrs Maisel, the Duffer Brothers need an editor or someone to say no to them. Still a pretty good season though.


  • Critical Role Exandria Unlimited: Calamity- A four episode mini series of DND, this is some of the best roleplaying you will see. Telling the story of a collapse of a magical civilization, it has fantastic characters and brilliant, detailed world building. You know it’s going to end in a terrible way, but the way it is done leaves you tense throughout. Recommended even if you don’t know the ongoing Critical Role campaign.

That’s it for this month. Probably won’t read as much this month as I want to be out and about in the world, not cooped up with covid.



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